High tides: Boffins spy on dolphins baked on poisonous piscines

Dude, quit bogarting the blowfish

dolphin
Chasing the blowfish buzz (Credit: Krista Nicholson)

Scientists in Australia have observed groups of dolphins sharing around a blowfish and getting out of their skulls on the toxins they produce.

The mad-for-it mammals were seen taking an unusual interest in blowfish by the Mandurah Dolphin Research Project in Western Australia. The fish produces a toxin called tetrodotoxin, which can kill humans but is thought to induce euphoria or numbness in dolphins.

The project has spotted numerous instances of dolphins, particularly juveniles, playing with blowfish. The canny cetacea mouth the fish and toss them around.

In a BBC documentary Dolphins – Spy in the Pod, underwater camera crews filmed pods of dolphins chewing on the fish and playing “pass the puffer around,” according to Krista Nicholson, a PhD student at Murdoch University. It appears to be evidence of recreational drug use by dolphins.

But our water-loving cousins aren't the only animals that like to get loaded. Reindeer are known to enjoy magic mushrooms – as do the humans that herd them, who get off by collecting the deer's urine and tripping on hallucinogens that make it through the urinary process.

Elephants in India have shown a taste for beer, jaguar in South America munch on caapi roots that zonk them out, and black lemurs in Madagascar get high off secretions from millipedes. So if you're feeling guilty about getting wankered this weekend rest easy, you are not alone. ®


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017